#Summer is in full swing and she’s swiftly delivering on her annual guarantee: hot temperatures. As the degrees climb, they are accompanied by several potential hazards. Whether you operate a regional fleet or have vehicles sprawled across the nation, you want to be sure to preserve that which matters most – life. From field workers to shop techs to K-9 officers, anyone spending extended periods of time under the sun or in unattended vehicles can encounter risks that result from overexposure to heat. And with a long summer staring us in the face, Black Fleet Network promotes taking proactive measures to reduce liabilities and promote the safest possible work environments. Therefore, we’ve compiled a couple of 5-point prevention strategies designed to help protect our colleagues over the next few months.
Technicians are the life blood of every fleet, as they are the checks and balances for optimizing uptime. They use their bodies in conjunction with tools and equipment to get the job done. So, you want to treat their fitness as paramount and be sure they’re prepared to deliver through seasonal changes.
Encourage proper hydration. Set up multiple water stations and be sure each team member has a personal water bottle. More sweat equals a loss of essentials that the body needs. Encouraging a sports drink isn’t a bad idea, as many varieties will help replace electrolytes and minerals.
Establish breaks in between working on vehicles during spikes in temperature. Rest is not the enemy of productivity. Opportunities to reset the mind and body throughout the workday will have a positive effect. Whereas overexertion flirts with disaster.
Provide cooling stations if they're working outside or in an unconditioned space. Pop-up canopies, fans, and water coolers combine to create a healthful respite after grinding in the heat for a while. A boost in morale will be the bonus.
Make yourself available in case any heat related incidents occur. Has protocol for urgent or emergent situations been published and recently reviewed with all employees? Are the channels for communicating such situations clearly understood and easily accessible? This is where leadership meets responsibility. Root word: Response. Stepping forward with a game plan is a necessity. You’re here for the wins, not the regrets.
Have cooling blankets onsite to help quickly address overheating. Check in with your local emergency response pros for the best mitigation resources to have on-hand. You may even want to bring them into the shop to provide training and insights for your team, to help empower your staff for administering first aid.
Canines are integral members of many law enforcement agencies. Though exceptional and proficient, our four-legged friends have limited capacity for keeping themselves safe. During active duty, they encounter compromise, but the inside of their vehicles should offer security that’s reinforced by the following actions:
Confirm the air conditioning system is fully functional. The normal body temperature for a dog is only a couple of degrees higher than that of a human. So, if a vehicle is running with a K-9 inside, it should be cooled to a level of comfort that would suit a person.
Verify that all coolant levels are up to par. Simple.
Ensure your Hotdog™ temperature monitoring system is operating correctly. This Canine-specific technology was designed as a support system for monitoring and controlling in-cab temps. It’s a fail-safe automation that’s present when a human officer isn’t. If you have it, please use it. If you don't, consider investing in it.
Frequently check on your canine partner during any type of exercise where the vehicle is unattended. Keep your furry colleague hydrated and look for any heat-related distress signals. Excessive panting, increase salivation, and lethargy may indicate dehydration or overheating.
As an auxiliary measure, install a #telematics system that will monitor ambient cab temperature and send text/email alerts to both the handler and central station. Supplementing the communication that the canine is incapable of provides an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.
These initial efforts serve as a baseline for affirming your team members are in good shape and ready to beat the heat. Depending on your location and climate patterns, your operation may require additional services to address needs specific to your geography. We highly encourage taking every precaution in support of health and safety.
Your #leadership is the difference between gains and losses. Preparation and accountability are the best tools for averting failure. Prevention doesn’t guarantee a lack of accident, but it will minimize the probability of unfortunate events. BFN wishes you continued success with your fleet and your business. Remember to let your techs and law enforcement officers know how much you appreciate them. And let’s have a safe, enjoyable Summer. Stay cool.
Credits to Al Curtis (Fleet Services Director of Cobb County, GA) for the respective lists of checkpoints detailed above.